Congressman Hakeem Jeffries presented a check for $800,000 to the Fresh Creek Civic Association at a press conference held at the corner of East 108th Street and Flatlands 2nd Street on Monday. The funding will help improve flooding and drainage issues prevalent along the eastern edge of Canarsie.
Fresh Creek Civic Association President Maria Garrett, who has been fighting for 20 years to improve resiliency along the shoreline, accepted the check. She ramped up her efforts when Superstorm Sandy caused severe flooding and damage to homes in the area, almost 10 years ago.
A $14 million project by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR) kicked off last November to install tide gate chambers at various locations along East 108th Street (see “Millions Flow Into Fresh Creek For Resiliency Project On The Eve Of Sandy Anniversary,” Canarsie Courier, November 4, 2021). During a storm surge and at high tide, the tide gate chambers will prevent water overflow and flooding from Fresh Creek into the community.
Congressman Jeffries, who has represented the 8th Congressional District, which covers Canarsie, for 10 years, stressed the importance of the project. “Residents of Canarsie live in one of the lowest lying areas in Brooklyn. Additional hazards presented by the climate crisis – rising sea levels and the increase in extreme weather events, particularly in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy – add to the problem.”
The additional $800,000 was secured through Community Project Funding. “The funds come out of an annual spending agreement that Congress recently passed and was signed into law by President Biden in March,” Jeffries said.
The congressman said he was grateful for partnerships with the City of New York and the Department of Environmental Protection. DEP Chief Operating Officer Vincent Sapienza was in attendance at the press conference.
Sapienza said the DEP’s main priority is to make sure streets don’t flood. “With sea rise, it makes it tough to push water from the streets into the sewer system and out in the creek. Oftentimes, the water from the creek gets pushed back in the opposite direction and impacts flooding.” The recent completion of 6.5 miles of new sewers, he said, should help with the problem, along with the Tide Gate Project, which is expected to completed by July 2022.
Surrounded by water on three sides (Fresh Creek, Jamaica Bay and Paerdegat Basin), Jeffries said Canarsie is a vulnerable community. “The sewers have degraded over the decades – thankfully, they have recently been upgraded. Close proximity to Fresh Creek and the rise in extreme weather – that’s why it’s so important to secure support for the Tide Gate Project.”
Garrett thanked members of the Fresh Creek Civic for their endless support and Jeffries for the funding. “He was here walking the community after Sandy. He advocated for us every step of the way. He didn’t forget us. But, we still have a lot to accomplish here in Canarsie.”